hey whistlenut, I love the opinions given and love yours too! we aren't survivalists but we do live within 3 hours (one tank of gas in a car) from three major cities so if needed, we need to be ready...to help or to hide! We've got solar lighting and are working on a solar freezer, and a dry/canned goods pantry...we just like knowing how to do things...I think they call us 'urban farmers' now
DH is not going to get a stoker, heard too much about them and not good stuff from friends that tried them...it does tie us to the house but we have pets and older parents that do that too so oh well, vacations away are for warmer weather times..
so right too about learning to use what we have, that surdiac! even the kids can work it now, and we have students stay with us sometimes, they learn in quick order how to properly do a shake and poke down, or they freeze! we debated for years on whether to put a barometric damper on it, but have had one now for three years and it makes a difference on those 40F days, no more fears of temperature and CO inversions, we do like our pets and want them to be alive when we come in from work
and we all know, never eat yellow snow! I get that about bad reviews too, take them with many grains of salt, all the advice here is wonderful(ly fun, too).
now here's another Question! do you oil the top of your cast iron stoves against liquids spilling and rusting it when cooking on it like we all do with our cast iron cookware? This is a question we have too about steel cased stoves, how does one keep the top in good condition when cooking on it?
and good to hear that Harman is an excellent choice, we'd have to go out of town to the nearest dealer but it may be worth the trip, especially if we are talking about 20 hour burns!
oh another edit! how young is young?